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A National Research Report: What Principals Would Tell Parents to Help Parents Help Their Children

reading_poetryHere’s what elementary and secondary principals said when asked what they would tell parents, “If they could tell parents just one thing to help them help their children”:

1. Take time to talk with your children, and listen to what they have to say. (Overwhelmingly #1)

  • Dept. of Ed. study: Average American mother spends less than 30 minutes a day talking to her children. Average American father—15 minutes.
  • Talk when your child comes home from school.
  • Make a point to talk 1:1 with each child, not always just group talk.
  • Talk, sing, laugh, read, listen with your children.

2. Take an active interest in your child and what he or she is doing in school, and monitor their progress.

  • Don’t just ask, “What did you do in school today?” Ask questions like, “How are you doing?” “What are your latest test grades?” “Do you feel you are achieving?” “What was the most interesting thing you did today?” “What did you do best today?” “What is coming up tomorrow?”

3. Let your children know you love them. Take the time to show that you care.

4. Help build your child’s self-esteem, the opinion she has of herself.

  • Let them know that you think they are valuable, capable human beings and that you know they can succeed.
  • Give them positive feedback on all areas of their lives.
  • Support them in their activities including homework, sports, dealing with life experiences.
  • “Don’t put children down. If you look for what the child is doing right, you won’t have time to see the things he is doing wrong.”
  • Point out to your child when she is doing something right. Don’t stress when she is doing something wrong.
  • Be careful of the words and ideas you say and share with your children. You are one of the most important people in the world to your kids and they want to make you happy. What you say to them and how you say it will set the tone and goals of their lives for years to come. Use encouragement freely and criticism very seldom.

5. Teach children to be responsible.

  • Tell them that you love them and hold them accountable for their decisions. Tell them up-front the positive and negative consequences certain behavior will result in.
  • Stand beside your child, not in front of beside them. Help them face life’s challenges with you at their side.
  • Love them enough to let them hate you sometimes—when you have to take an unpopular stand in their best interest.
  • Give your child responsibilities at home.

6. Read to and with your children everyday.

  • Set an example by reading yourself.
  • Make reading materials available.
  • Encourage your child to start his own library.
  • Children are never too young nor too old to read to them. Reading provides time together, reading practice and good language background.

7. Make certain kids spend time on homework.

  • Provide an adequate place and insist on a set time for homework. (Try “as soon as” technique—you can set your own time for homework as soon as your grades are acceptable.)
  • Discuss homework with your child.
  • Help your child do homework effectively. SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Restate, Review).

From a study by Dr. John H. Wherry, President of The Parent Institute.